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Jackie Robinson





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Jackie Robinson Jackie Robinson, grew up in Pasadena, California and attended the University of California at Los Angeles where he lettered in baseball, basketball, football and track. In 1945 after serving in the military, Robinson played with the Kansas City Monarchs of the American Negro League. That same year Branch Rikey, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, signed Robinson to play for the Montreal Royals, a farm club in the International League. After a successful season, he was contracted to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers and became the first African American to play in the major leagues since the 19th century. Although he encountered much opposition, his talent and determination to succeed won over many critics. In his distinguished 10-year career, Robinson led the Brooklyn Dodgers to six National League titles and a World Series championship. When he retired from baseball Jackie Robinson became active in the civil rights movement, and was known for tirelessly raising funds for the NAACP.

A DREAM DEFERRED: ROBINSON'S EARLY LIFE

My grandfather was born into slavery, and although my mother and my father, Mallie and Jerry Robinson, lived during an era when physical slavery had been abolished, they also lived in a newer, more sophisticated kind of slavery than the kind Mr. Lincoln struck down. My parents were married in 1909, and my father worked on a plantation for twelve dollars a month. My mother encouraged him to confront his boss and ask for a better deal. Since he didn't want to lose him, the boss agreed to let my father become a "half-cropper." That means that, instead of working for a flat sum, he would get half the profits from whatever he produced from the earth. My father began to make more money and to provide a better living for his family -- my mother and five children. Six months after I was born in 1919, my father told my mother he was going to visit his brother in Texas. I learned as a grown man he had been complaining that he was tired of farming and he had been spending an increasing amount of time in Cairo, the city closest to the plantation. My mother was afraid that my father would not come back, and her fears were justified. Later she learned that he had left home and gone away with a neighbor's wife.

To this day I have no idea what became of my father. Later, when I became aware of how much my mother had to endure alone, I could only think of him with bitterness. He, too, may have been a victim of oppression, but he had no right to desert my mother and five children.

Robinson's mother moved the family to California. After a somewhat mis-spent youth, Jackie became UCLA's first 4 letter man, playing basketball, baseball, football, and track. He left after two years and joined the Army. After an honorable discharge in 1944, he joined the Kansas City Monarchs, a Negro League team.

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Excerpted from I Never Had It Made by Jackie Robinson. Copyright 1995 by Rachel Robinson. Published by arrangement with Ecco Press, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
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